This Is A Secular Revolution

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A protester highlighting that there is no difference between Muslims and Christians when we come together to fight for our country. His shirt says Down with Mubarak, and the crescent and cross equal peace.

On the New Year Egypt was shaken by a devastating attack on a church in Alexandria by a suicide bomber. The disaster dramatically highlighted the tensions that remain between some Muslims and Coptic Christians in Egypt, and their distrust of one another. While the percentage who feel this way is extremely small and is fueled by ignorance and intolerance, the events of that New Year shed light on a problem that nonetheless remains a thorn in a Egypt’s side.

This revolution has shattered this thorn. It has ripped it apart. This is not a religious revolution, and its result is not meant to be religious either. This is secular. We Egyptians have come together, regardless of race, wealth, origin, opinion, gender, age, or belief, to support our country. Egypt is the thread that ties us all together. Whoever we may be, we are red, white, and black, with a golden eagle in the middle.

A few days ago Reuters reported that the protest in front of the Egyptian embassy in London highlighted the split between those who wanted an Islamist future for Egypt and those who wanted a secular one. The fact that there are religious slogans at any pro-democracy rally is odd  and quite frankly, disrespectful.

We are on the streets fighting for our country so that we can achieve something new in the history of our country. So that we can achieve democracy. So that we will have the ability to choose who we want in office and vote for them accordingly. Government is not a religious institution. Egypt is not a theocracy, and never can be. Egypt must remain a beacon of freedom so as to be an example for its sister countries across the Middle East. The separation between church and state is unquestionable in any modern state. So why does it remain such a prudent issue in Egypt today?

Egypt’s population, although it is difficult to attribute for certain, is roughly 85% Sunni Muslim, 10% Coptic Christian, and 5% other. So clearly, a sizable portion of Egypt’s 85 million people are not Muslim. And the percentage of the Muslims who wish for a liberal, democratic government far outweighs those who do. In plain and clear words: Egypt does not want any sort of religious authority within its government. As a democracy, Egypt must allow all religions to be practised freely, and the government cannot choose which religion it supports.

I cite the First Amendment of the the US Bill of Rights:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

There is contention as to what it means exactly with regards to freedom of religion, but the liberal interpretation is that it erects an undeniable separation between church and state. In order for Egypt to be totally free, it must follow these ideals.

Is the Christian man less patriotic than the Muslim? Does he not love Egypt just as much? We must look beyond our faith. If our neighbour is Christian, he remains our countryman. He is no different from me. And so the government cannot treat him as different. And most importantly, the Revolution does not treat him as different. Muslims and Christians are demonstration together, both calling for freedom and dignity and civil rights. And so the result must be that, without any focus on what our private beliefs may be.

One of the most touching examples of Muslim/Christian brotherhood was the sight of Muslims bending down for their midday prayers, and Christians standing around them to protect them from riot police. When the Muslims would say Amen as part of their prayers, the Christians would join in. It truly gives you goosebumps. If that does not represent the brotherhood that we share regardless of our beliefs than what will?

Muslims pray on the streets of Cairo, as riot police form a cordon around them. January 26th.



Written by BraveNewEgypt

February 1, 2011 at 9:33 pm

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